Family DinnerOne of the best things you can do for your parents is to help them get their estate planning done.  It will not only give them peace of mind, it will also help you ensure your inheritance.  Smart estate planning calls for both the proper forms and documents, and a suitable understanding of ways to use the law to your benefit.  Both of these can be difficult for the lay person to know how to acquire. This confusion often causes folks to hesitate.  The delay can be costly for all concerned.  It is best to get the estate planning started early.

Like anything else, estate planning is buyer be aware. When there is an inheritance to protect, it is important to take a little time to understand how to transfer the property to everyone’s advantage.  The first step is finding a good attorney who can help you, or getting the right instructions that can help you do it yourself.  Neglecting this step could cause costly tax and inheritance planning problems that everyone will rue later on.

Next comes customizing the estate plan to complement the family’s state of affairs.  As an example, you may take a look at the family and recognize that not everyone is responsible enough to handle the estate carefully.  Should one of the careless folks end up in charge of the inheritance, the whole estate could be in jeopardy. Similarly, not all of the beneficiaries can handle their inheritance wisely.   They could spend the inheritance like a drunken spendthrift.  Alternatively, there could be a need to preserve some of the estate to help one of the beneficiaries with special health needs.  Each family has different situations that have to be considered.

The estate plan should take the personalities and unique situations into consideration and ensure that the most capable person should handle the estate. When a good manager is in charge of the estate, they can account for unique situations in the family. For example, they can give the spendthrift the money he or she needs to go to college and keep the rest of that person’s estate until they mature enough to manage their own inheritance. This is only one example of a large number of inheritance conditions that need to be tackled in estate planning. The trick is to recognize what is needed so you can guide the lawyer or do it yourself.  Even with good legal counsel, it is essential to educate yourself so you will end up getting a reasonable estate plan put in place.

It is legal to do your personal legal work, and you can get good doing it, with the right coaching.  Keep in mind it is very important to understand what to do. Some sites offer cost-free estate planning documents and then hook you on some other deal. If you get free of charge estate planning forms, you will likely get an estate plan worth about what you paid for it. Additionally because all estate plans involve several forms, most sites get you in and then rack up the charges.  You will need to pay for the rest of the forms. Let’s face it, if you want to protect your inheritance, you’ll need to be able to get a wide variety of estate planning documents and know how to use them. Even if you have a lawyer do the work for you, most of the time the paper work doesn’t do the family any good, because they don’t know how to use the papers. The free or cut rate paperwork will almost always cost you a lot more than if you pay for specialty forms.

Estate planning is not a time to go cheap. You are trying to protect a lifetime of work and asset accumulation. Unfortunately, going expensive doesn’t guarantee success. The success is more dependent upon your ability to check up on what is being written and then use the documents during your lifetime.

To be aware of what can be done to customize your forms for a good estate plan, take the time to find an excellent estate planning program. This program should disclose things to look for as part of your estate planning and let you put together the correct choices. The program should show you how to make a living trust, pour over wills, powers of attorney, living wills and various estate planning forms which will insure your inheritance.

An inheritance is a big deal. In fact, it is the largest financial transaction most people ever handle. The faster you take proper care of your estate planning the better.  For an exceptional overview, I suggest you get a copy of the book, Protecting Your Financial Future.   If you look over the first four chapters, you will get a good overview of the estate planning process. Most people end up finishing the book and then have a clear picture as to exactly what needs to be done, whether they have the lawyer do it for them or they do it themselves. The book, a Time-Warner Book-of-the-Month Club book, is available on Amazon, or you can get it on the LegaLees website at a discount. Whatever you do, don’t wait. It is not worth the risk to your inheritance. The sooner an estate plan is in place the better.

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